This post is part of a short series on the history of analytics, covering:
- Historical notes on analytics — the pre-computer era (this post)
- Historical notes on analytic terminology
- Historical notes on analytics — departmental adoption
Sometimes, what people describe as being “New, new, new!!!” in analytics has actually been happening since before they were born, or even before their parents were. Occasionally, I point this out. I think it’s time to collect some of those observations into a short series of posts.
Before getting to the history of actual analytic software, I can’t resist racing through some really old stuff. In a 2004 white paper, I wrote:
Transactional business processes have been around literally since the beginning of recorded history. Some of the oldest known writings are clay tablets that record merchants’ tallies in Sumerian cuneiform, complete with seals to enforce transaction integrity. Analytic business processes date back nearly as long, especially in military applications; the first chapter of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War is called “Calculations,” or in some translations “Laying Plans.”*
As enterprise complexity increased, so did the sophistication of analytic business processes. Almost two centuries ago, Nathan Rothschild made an investment fortune from early news about the Battle of Waterloo, and several decades later Florence Nightingale** introduced statistics to the study of public health. With the invention of machines to tabulate information in the late 19th Century, analysis began to blossom.
I blogged a little last year about the rewards and challenges of combining professional services and software in a mature company’s business model. My main example was Oracle. But other examples from Oracle’s history might have been equally instructive. For example:
- Oracle started out doing what amounted to custom development for government (military/intelligence) clients.
- Even when Oracle said it had productized its software, the stuff didn’t work very well without services to get it running.
- Oracle and Ingres both got a huge fraction of their early revenue* from deals to port their software to various brands of hardware.** That’s a lot like professional services.
- Oracle’s huge Tools Group grew out of professional services, if I have the story straight. Indeed, its first product was written by later long-time group chief Sohaib Abbasi when he was a consultant.
Something (I’ll drop in a link when allowed) made me recall the story of Software AG and the USSR. Apparently, the USSR attempted to acquire a lot of Western technology, including ADABAS. Software AG of North America cooperated with the Feds to try to catch the Soviet agent in indictable technological espionage — but then, with its usual flamboyance, ran ads bragging about the event. The writeup of all this I found when searching was some subsequent Congressional testimony.
This was all slightly before my time — I only entered the industry and met Software AG in 1981. So does anybody else out there recall more of the story than I do?
In the process of researching my recent post on Management Horizons Data Systems, I came across an excerpt from a 1972 marketing brochure (quoted in the “History of Management Horizons” piece cited there). General notes include:
- The brochure quote basically pitches business intelligence/ performance management, with unconstrained drilldown.
- Pitching BI/analytics benefits for what start out as being transactional applications has been going on for pretty much the whole history of the applications industry. This just happens to be a great proof point.
- The unconstrained drilldown part could almost be taken for granted today, in the relational era. In 1972, however, it was a rather bold (and for all I know exaggerated) claim.
The exact verbiage is: Read more
I started drafting this post along with others around the time of my parents’ deaths, then put it aside. However, I have been informed that my father’s old colleague Alton Doody has cancer himself, and if we are ever to get his input, it would be best to solicit it REALLY SOON. So I’m finishing this up now as best I can.
Here’s the part I know from my own memories as
- The son of a Management Horizons employee (namely my Dad).
- A software industry stock analyst (in particular, one who followed Informatics General).
My father moved to the Columbus area in 1973 to join Management Horizons, a consulting firm serving retailers. Management Horizons had its own spin-out already, a time-sharing company called Management Horizons Data Services (MHDS), with which it still shared a building on what is now Old Henderson Road in Upper Arlington. And, this being a world full of coincidences, MHDS is very on-topic for the primary focus of this blog (software industry history).
MHDS’ main business was a full suite of what we might now call ERP for distributors and/or retailers. That never amounted to much. But its secondary business was an electronic interchange for direct placement of orders, called Ordernet. Ordernet turned into Sterling Commerce, a > $1/2 billion company that has been acquired for >$1 billion more than once.
The chain of events, roughly, is: Read more
|Categories: Application software, Companies and products, Computer services, Pre-relational era||10 Comments|
I have been writing a series of posts about my recently-deceased parents Peter and Anita Monash. A listing of them may be found below.
We now have details for their joint Celebration of Life, a better term than “Memorial Service,” or at least one less fraught with religious overtones. It will be Sunday, November 14, 4 pm, at Friendship Village of Dublin (address and directions below).
To quote a previous post:
Please make in-lieu-of-flowers donations to the Clinton Foundation, which is doing terrific work in Haiti relief, microfinance, tropical disease, HIV/AIDS, and much, much more.
Unfortunately the Clinton Foundation has no obvious “In Memory Of ____ ” option, so please feel free to make mention of a gift in the comments below, should you choose.
At this time I do not plan to blog at any length about my parents’ retirement years or final declines. More precisely, I do not plan to cover those subjects at length unless I am prepared to weave them into “lessons learned” kinds of posts. But to cover those in very abbreviated form:
- My parents, while still fairly strong and active, moved into the Friendship Village of Dublin community linked in the directions below.
- Peter Monash’s dementia was mild until the end. He had difficulties remembering certain words or names, and generally was slower mentally than he was in his prime, but in essence his personality and lively mind were unaltered.
- Much the same was true of Anita Monash until January of this year, give or take a month. And even until (almost) the end, she recognized everybody, could respond to fairly sophisticated concepts, and so on.
- They both had issues with the classic old-age banes of falls, pain, weakness, hearing loss, pneumonia, and skin infections. Neither seemed to have a problem with strokes. Peter Monash also lost the sight in one eye, which interfered with reading. Much of Peter Monash’s weakness was kidney-related. Anita Monash had longstanding fibromyalgia.
Location details for Peter and Anita Monash’s Celebration of Life are:
- Friendship Village of Dublin, phone number and overview map at that link.
- 6000 Riverside Drive, Dublin, OH. The entrance is on a cross street at the south end of the facility. Google Maps isn’t looking terribly reliable.
- You want the main building entrance, on the East/Riverside Drive/Scioto River side of the facility.
- The actual event will be in the “Convocation Room,” near the main lobby.
And finally, I’m the executor of the wills of both Peter and Anita Monash — dated 2004 — and we have a glitch. There’s a bequest of some nice craft items to Robert Zwink, perhaps now or previously a resident of the Columbus, OH area, and I have no idea who Robert Zwink is. Mr. Zwink — if you discover this post, please contact me via the Contact link above. If you’re the wrong Robert Zwink, but have an idea of a namesake who might be the correct one, please help me out by putting us in touch.
The series so far
- Introduction to the lives and marriage of Peter and Anita Monash. The first post in the series, it also has details such as time of death.
- Religion and the Holocaust in the lives of Peter Monash, Anita Monash, and my grandparents.
- Peter Monash’s life before he immigrated to the United States.
- Peter Monash’s life his first quarter-century in the United States.
- The peak of Peter Monash’s working life, and the overall business movement in which he played a key part.
- Anita Monash’s life until she got married.
- Anita Monash’s life from marriage through retirement.
- An overview post, framing the whole series.
My mother frequently said that the most important thing in life was health — if you had that, you could deal with the rest. Unfortunately, she often didn’t have it. Read more
Anita Kaete Jonas was born June 23, 1928 in Dresden, Germany, to Kurt and Ilse “Ille” Jonas. She seems to have been quite the cute and spoiled little kid. She called her father “Kurtchen,” the diminutive of his given name; hence everybody else, including his patients, called him that as well. (They knew what she called him because she always insisted on answering the telephone.*) Her aunt (childless) and uncle evidently doted on her. Her father was a charmer, and my grandmother wasn’t so bad herself. It was one of those families. Read more
I’ve just written a long post about the general creative consulting endeavors my late father was involved in. Highlights specific to him included:
- In 1973, Peter Monash joined Management Horizons, a consulting firm in the Columbus, Ohio area serving retailers.
- In 1976, he helped found a spin-off consulting firm, The Doody Company, later called Retail Planning Associates.
- In 1981, he and Terry Westmacott founded a spin-off of the spin-off, called ROI. (Pay no attention to the official name of “Retail Optimization International,” which I actually came up with for them — the point was to call it “ROI”.) That wasn’t the most successful of partnerships.
- He briefly went back to Retail Planning Associates (RPA).
- Finally, he founded Peter E. Monash and Associates, where the “Associates” were my mother and some part-time subcontractors (often ones he’d known from RPA). That was very successful.
Along the way, he did serious work for major retailers around the world — Wal-Mart in the US, Migros in Switzerland, Tesco in the UK, Horten, Karstadt, and Kaufhof in Germany, Ito Yokado in Japan, COIN in Italy, and many others spanning the world, Brazil and South Africa not excepted. Read more
When he got to Columbus, Ohio, my late father Peter Monash helped make retail industry history. So before I continue a more personal view of his life story, let me talk a bit about the broader industry dynamics. I am, on the whole, no expert on retailing.* But perhaps I know just enough to get the discussion kicked off.
*Well, there was that one time Duane Naccarato and I did strategic consulting for a Central American general merchant chain. But that only came about because their culture put strong emphasis on personal friendships, family connections, and the like. Also, one of the many things they needed to upgrade was their information systems …
Big stores were only made possible by technologies such as (fairly) modern transportation and, for that matter, electric lighting. Malls, well-stocked specialty stores, further depended on developments such as automobiles and suburbs. So as of the 1970s, the modern retail industry really wasn’t all that old. Read more